The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

European Championships Women’s Olympic Qualification

After four subdivisions of thrilling qualification action at the European Championships, we now know exactly who has earned the final Olympic spots out of Europe. Confirming what had previously been her cult-favorite status, Error Code 232404 had a tremendous day, setting the standard from the first subdivision and never looking back. Her buffering circle was so extended and pristine, and while I would have liked to see a little more closure in that ring position, that’s being picky.

After EC Dubs annihilated the competition early, there was really only ever going to be one Olympic spot left. To the surprise of no one, Error 502 Bad Gateway—honestly the stronger of the Bad Gateway sisters, especially these days—performed like the rock she is to take the spot, with the shocking complexity of her movements truly standing out, even among this esteemed field. When Error 502 is at a competition, you absolutely can’t watch anyone else.

With only two Olympic spots on offer, there were always going to be some heartbreaking moments, and the most gut-wrenching of all had to belong to Problem Providing Access To Protected Content, a new senior who couldn’t have done more throughout the entire third subdivision. Yet, with such established stars in this group, she simply never had a chance to make her mark or get the scores she needed. To be quite honest, I think she has an argument for being underscored because the judges were anticipating having to save their highest numbers for defending champion Video File Cannot Be Played in the final subdivision.

As for Cannot Be Played, I was shocked that she had such a poor competition. She brought everything we expect from her at her best—the error codes, the stuttering, the crashing—but it suddenly felt like there was no place for the staccato finality and predictability of her style in this year’s competition. where leaving the door open for interpretation and vacillation and the pure uncertainty of not knowing what would come next clearly won the day.

In the end, the Russians finished in the top three spots in the all-around despite all falling on beam (that’s our Russia), which officially secures the full six Olympic spots for the Russian women—four for the team, and two to throw at whatever individuals they like. It was a nail-biter for the second spot, but Larisa Iordache ultimately hung on by three tenths ahead of Martina Maggio to secure a spot for herself in Tokyo. Larisa sure made it interesting, falling on a double turn on beam in the first rotation and getting a .3 OOB deduction on floor in the second rotation, but her beam somehow still got the top score of the day, and she was able to use solid hits on the final two events (we think) to sneak by Maggio, who very nearly played spoiler. Maggio was the alternate at worlds in 2019 but is sure making a case for herself for the Italian team this year.

A stellar performance from Amelie Morgan settled her in sixth AA with absolutely excellent bars and beam routines (advancing to both finals). Morgan doesn’t have enough difficulty back yet on floor or vault to get a higher overall total, or one that could challenge the Olympic qualifiers, but she really couldn’t have done better on the day. The same is true for Vanessa Ferrari, and while she would have had eyes only for an Olympic spot today, her seventh-place finish in qualification is a tremendous comeback accomplishment.

In two-per-country news, Vladislava Urazova finished in Wieber Zone and was knocked out of the AA final by a mere couple tenths, coming in just behind Listunova, who herself was just behind Melnikova. Urazova ended up having the least disastrous beam of the three, but her floor score was too low to keep up with the 14s that Melnikova and Listunova got at the end. As for Elena Gerasimova’s performance, some things are best left undiscussed. Melnikova advanced to the vault, bars, and floor finals, while Listunova made the floor final and Urazova the bars final.

Other possible contenders—Alice Kinsella and Alice D’Amato, both competing in early subdivisions—were also two-per-country-ed out of the all-around final.

Jessica Gadirova ended up the top qualifier on vault and #3 qualifier on floor, which is a huge deal for her. Giorgia Villa did not compete AA today but will figure in the bars final—though sadly Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos will not be in the bars final after a miss. Thankfully, both Weverses did advance to the beam final, and Steingruber made both the vault and floor finals.

Tomorrow brings us men’s qualification, with both AA finals coming on Friday.

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